Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Q& A; Rene Fleming Brings 'Guilty Pleasures' to the Sheldon

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Q& A; Rene Fleming Brings 'Guilty Pleasures' to the Sheldon

Article excerpt

Soprano Rene Fleming has sung scores of operatic heroines, won four Grammys, been the host of "Met in HD" and "Live from Lincoln Center" broadcasts, inspired a best-selling novel, written a book of her own, had a dessert named for her, received numerous international awards and the 2012 National Medal of Arts (presented by President Barack Obama), and, most recently, was the first classical singer ever tapped to sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl.

Tonight she will perform at the Sheldon Concert Hall, the headliner for the Sheldon's spring gala. The program is called "Guilty Pleasures," a variety of songs chosen just because they're beautiful. She spoke with the Post-Dispatch last week.

Q * The announcement that you'd be singing the "Star-Spangled Banner" for the Super Bowl set off quite a flurry. What was that like?

A * It took 10 years off my life, but it was worth it. It was such a stressful couple of weeks. The song is challenging; it's famously difficult to sing, and when you add (an interpolated high note), it's even more challenging.

Add to that the anxiety of performing for 110 million people, in a stadium where the noise is deafening. For those of us who only sing in relatively small venues, with no amplification, it's almost overwhelming.

Q * Your book, "The Inner Voice: The Making of a Singer," is terrific on the subject of building an operatic career. Do you have plans to do another one?

A * Now that I've done one, I know that the time (required) is unbelievable. I would like to write about career maintenance, the vocal landscape, but I don't know when I'd get it to it.

If nothing else, it's good for young singers to know that I struggled, too. A lot of people imagined that it was all easy.

Q * Lyric Opera of Chicago created the position of creative consultant for you in 2010. How has that unfolded?

A * It's been a real labor of love a real learning experience. It's allowed me to take on the projects that interest me. It's mostly audience promotion; I'm not there to manage day-to-day. …

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